Responsible business for lawyers:  balancing the client duty and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Date: Thursday 7 March 2013
Time: Registration at 17:45, Debate starts 18:15, Bar open from 19:30
Venue: The Law Society, 113 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1PL
CPD: 1.5 hours
Cost: This event is free to attend


It is well known that lawyers play a crucial role in upholding the rule of law, but just how far does that role go? Should lawyers be leading through best practice in the field of internal human rights policies?

On 16 June 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights which were the result of several years of intensive deliberation and consultation led by Prof. John Ruggie. The Guiding Principles clarify the roles and responsibilities of states, companies and other social actors in respect of corporate human rights impacts.

While not creating hard legal obligations, the discourse around the Guiding Principles and how they are best implemented by business is heating up. It is arguable that law firms themselves will be required to “know and show” they are respecting human rights especially in their role as trusted advisors to business, offering companies and clients advice about the human rights impacts of their activities.

Lawyers play a crucial role in helping companies understand and manage risks and human rights risks are developing the potential to crystallise into very real legal liabilities, but lawyers have also have a very special role in duty to clients. Are these obligations reconcilable and if so, how?

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The Panel

  • Antony Crockett, Clifford Chance
  • Chris Esdaile, Leigh Day
  • Francis Neate (former President of the IBA)

Who should attend

This event is open to both members of the Law Society and the public. This debate is recommended for anyone interested in the debate topic, including:

  • Law Society members
  • Risk and compliance departments
  • Corporate Counsel
  • Academics

A Q&A session will follow the debate, and the Law Society bar will open from 19:30hrs.

To reserve a place and find out more.

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